Monthly Archives: October 2016

Returning

It’s Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year.  This was a post from several years ago which I also re-posted last year.  In reading it over I realize that I hit on many of these same themes yesterday but a little repetition isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to thoughts that might be important. Those of you who celebrate the holiday are probably not reading this until sundown (I scheduled this yesterday in keeping with the spirit of not working on the day). Whether you do or don’t celebrate, I hope you’ll take a moment to reflect.

Shofar (by Alphonse Lévy) Caption says: "...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. For those of you unfamiliar with the holiday, it concludes the 10 day period at the start of the Jewish calendarRosh Hashanah – head of the year – during which all Jews are supposed to reflect upon the past year and examine how they’re going to change their lives going forward. One also seeks forgiveness from those against whom he has transgressed – both those of this earth and higher powers. There is a lot of other imagery connected with the period – inscription in the Book of Life being a big one – but I think there’s something each of us can take as a business lesson in a non-denominational way.

We all get off track.  Sometimes it’s in little ways like eating badly or drinking too much.  Sometimes it’s in big ways like alienating our families or hurting friends who love us.  The concept in Judaism of repentance is called Teshuva  which means “return”.  I love the notion of coming back to one’s self as well as to the basic human tenets that are common to all religions and peoples.

We can take a period of reflection and “return” in our business lives as well.  The most obvious way is for us as individuals   Who have we alienated this year?  What client have we taken for granted?  But it a bigger opportunity.  How has the business diverged from the mission?  Why have we stopped getting better and are just marching in place?  What can we be doing to grow our people but are ignoring?

We ask those kinds of questions from time to time, but I guess I’m suggesting that it become a more formal process.  Set aside a period every year for “return” thinking.  A period of repentance?  Maybe, in some cases.  But in all cases a chance to change.  A chance to regret past bad actions and to vow not to repeat them.  Most importantly (this is true in the religious sense as well), to correct the transgression.  To apologize.   To make restitution.  Whatever is right and lets everyone move forward with a clear conscious and a vow to do better.

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Filed under Thinking Aloud, What's Going On

Business Sins And Atonement

This evening Yom Kippur begins. Even if you’re not Jewish you probably know that this is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar and is a day spent fasting while focusing on a few things.

Jews praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur. (...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most people think of the day in terms of atoning for one’s sins. That’s not quite right in that it’s an incomplete statement. That atonement is only a part of the equation. There is a broader focus on other things as well. One is charity, one is repentance and the other is prayer. Those things can also be interpreted as trying to embody high ideals, returning to those values and ideals if we’ve strayed from them, and self-reflection.

Obviously, this isn’t a blog about religion, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that those are things we should be doing in our businesses as well. I’ll have my traditional Yom Kippur post on that tomorrow. I do want, however, to delve a bit more into the notion of sins in business and how we might atone for them.

The derivation of the word “sin” is explained by Wikipedia as follows:

The English Biblical terms translated as “sin” or “syn” from the Biblical Greek and Jewish terms sometimes originate from words in the latter languages denoting the act or state of missing the mark; the original sense of New Testament Greek ἁμαρτία hamartia “sin”, is failure, being in error, missing the mark, especially in spear throwing. Hebrew hata “sin” originates in archery and literally refer to missing the “gold” at the centre of a target, but hitting the target, i.e. error.

In other words, the religious context (violating the will of a higher power) isn’t the whole story. We sin in business by missing the mark or by failing. How so? We aim at things other than the targets that accomplish our goals. We focus on profits and not solving customers’ problems. We work well “up” and ignore the people who support us and make our jobs easier. We forget business acquaintances or co-workers when they no longer have anything to give us other than their friendship. I’m sure you can add to this list and I’m equally sure that we’re all guilty of one or more items on that list.

Maybe tomorrow would be a good day for any of us in business to reflect on and return to the business ideals that have taken us this far? Come to think of it, why not today?

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Filed under Reality checks, What's Going On

Set, Forget, Fail

You probably didn’t know that we take requests here on the screed. Today’s post is by request and is sort of a joint effort with my friend and former co-worker Russ. He and I are both fans of Michigan football and we ran into one another at the game in New Jersey last Saturday. “Game” may be an overstatement since Michigan blew out Rutgers 78-0. The first half of the game was played in the rain, making sitting through the one-sided contest even less appealing. Needless to say, the stadium was half empty after halftime (the student section was empty, as were most seats on the home side of the field). No, this isn’t a rant about fickle fans.

After the game, I’ll let Russ (well, Russ’ post on Facebook) explain what happened next:

I root for Rutgers when they’re not playing Michigan. I want the program to be good. But you can’t send this automated email with the game score and line score attached to a survey asking fans to rate their experience at a game you lost 78-0. You just can’t.

That’s the email, and Russ’ point is a very good one. Many marketing programs have become “set it and forget it.” I applaud the folks in the Rutgers athletics department for surveying fans to find out how to make the game experience worth every penny. But this comes across like the old joke about the evening at Ford’s theater: “So other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”

We can never set and forget anything in business. As Russ so aptly posted in a comment: “I knew my buddies with e-marketing experience would understand how bad it was. “Our solution is fully automated!” Automation is great. You have to be able to defeat it with human sensibility when needed.” Exactly.

Had someone been paying attention the copy could have been modified to remind fans that winning (or losing) is just part of why fans attend sporting events. Sitting with friends and family, tailgating, or any of the other myriad components of game day could have been mentioned since Rutgers’ football team just isn’t that good.

I suspect most of the feedback on this survey involved firing the coaching staff. That’s not particularly helpful information. While the football team can’t win them all, the marketing team can if someone would pay attention and get beyond setting and forgetting. Make sense?

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Filed under Consulting, digital media, Huh?, sports business